Acknowledge Suffering

One of the things that makes relationships so difficult is the way in which we protect ourselves from suffering — from our own and from each other’s. Because when you love someone you don’t want to lay your suffering on them and your fears. Also you are afraid if you open your heart too far their suffering will overwhelm you. Because when you look at the world, you just see suffering everywhere.

If you scratched the surface of every person in this room, you will find that there is some suffering. Some people who are walking around here smiling at each other and sitting down and having wonderful, gentle conversations, inside have very deep pain and deep fear. But they have learned so well how to mask it from each other. The culture reinforces that saying, don’t bring your pain to me. I only want your happiness. I’ll put up with a little of it but not much of it because you will scare me.

Now just as I said before, if you are going to be able to deal with seeing someone else’s beauty, you have to be able to acknowledge your own beauty. In a similar way if you are going to able to be available for someone else’s suffering you have to be able to acknowledge your own suffering and be able to understand the nature of suffering in such a way that you have converted the quality of suffering in yourself.

Gurdjieff, the Russian philosopher, said there is nothing that can be attained spiritually without suffering in life. But at the same time, if you are going to proceed on the journey you must sacrifice suffering. You hear the dual nature of it. You have to have suffered because the suffering is what burns through you and deepens the compassion and opens the door. Suffering brings you closer to the mystery. At the same moment if you hold on to the suffering and grab at it and sort of wallow in it or cling to it, it stops the journey.

There is an understanding of suffering such that you don’t invite suffering into your life but when it comes you work with it and transform it. The extreme of it is the Christian monk who is saying, “God, God give me more pain. Give me more suffering because I want to get closer to you.”  And Maharaj ji saying, “Do you like suffering or joy,” and saying, “I love suffering – it brings me so close to God.”


42 thoughts on “Acknowledge Suffering”

  1. thank you for your words of love and truth. thank you for the support of living from the heart. what a journey, in and of itself, that can be as awareness and consciousness continue to transform into the deeper part of deep. i so appreciate you and thank you for the many years i have had your writings to find more and more of myself along the way. peace to you my friend i have nver met.

  2. I do believe that some measure of suffering is necessary to have lived and to enjoy a fully embraced life. What perplexes me, is how to pass this understanding to those that suffer lightly and complain loudly. Thank God for the suffering, so that we can appreciate how good we have it now.

    • THis is true…to a point. I have often found myself saying: “Yeah, OK, I got the lesson and the point…the first 50 times! Do I really need this lesson AGAIN???” LIfe can be broken record sometimes.

  3. This article came into Facebook just at the right time, when I needed it the most. Last almost whole night I spent crying and questioning Maharaj ji, how long and how much more is He going to test my patience ? I had also thought to myself, I wish I could have a video chat with Ram Dass ji and share my sorrow, unburden myself and get answers to my questions. I am amazed how soon Maharaj ji listened to me and answered my questions. I would want to know if there is a way to video chat with ram Dass ji and get his blessings and taste the nectar of his devotion and love towards Maharaj ji. Ram Ram

  4. “Suffering brings you closer to the mystery”. What mystery are you specifically talking about? If God so loves us why are we made to suffer? And what about those who don’t get to suffer and have the wonderful lives we desire! At 50 years of age I find myself feeling little, resigned to my fate that this is all there is. Why would anyone live a life that is devoid-and I am not just talking about my life, I am talking of the thousands whose lives are devoid-why if God so loves these people does he give them lives that are devoid! Why would anyone choose to be born into such a life.

    • Suffering is expressed as a key to the mystery is based on the perspective that when one suffers, they seek to be free of it, and in that seeking suffering falls away. This is a valid perspective based on the observation of the world we live in where people suffer, get sick and die. From our living in a world where these sufferings appear, any individual enlightened person within it would have to see suffering as part of it. Suffering is good because it causes us to seek, or suffering is good because we appreciate no longer suffering… All these statements are based from a false premise that suffering is an inherent truth about the nature of all things, or god. Suffering is an observation of nature, like science observing gravity. When an enlightened being is free from suffering, they still observe it in others, so they try to communicate their experience, while in doing so turn suffering into a positive thing. Suffering exists, and if we seek to end our own suffering it can be a liken to a blessing, but suffering is not a blessing.
      All this explanation was to give sustenance to this point : suffering exists as an observable phenomena only because it appears in this point in human and universal evolvement. Just as the topography of the universe and the objects of the universe transform and evolve over time, so too do the concepts of suffering. Suffering is not of god, or love. Suffering is like an object. It serves a purpose only by how we experience it and choose to use it. If we never experienced suffering, it could never be a tool for enlightenment. However to say that suffering has to be, or is an necessary part of growing or knowing god is false. Suffering exists and is justifiable because those who are liberated from it are still surrounded by it in others and their world. This personal liberation amidst a world of suffering is an outer expression of subtle ignorance, or separateness, that still remains in them. Only from a consciousness that is of true oneness can the personal liberation of all living beings be seen without suffering.
      The end of personal suffering is only the beginning, because when individuals become free, they are bound within a world where others still suffer. If others are not others but oneness, how does one not experience suffering while others do? The answer can only be found in an end to subtle dualistic appearances. From the perspective free of subtle dualistic ignorance arises the solution to the end of the world of suffering and the liberation of mankind. This is what will arise when love becomes perfected in those who are liberated.

      • ‘subtle dualistic ignorance’ vs. acknowledging oneness…a useful phrase. Words can be helpful until they are not. Then the ‘heart’ or ‘soul’ IS. Concepts can be helpful until they are not. Beyond words and concepts….and yet, still here participating in human life…

      • Thank you. This is what I was trying to communicate to someone to this evening. It was suggested that it shouldn’t bother me if I sensed his pain. “Not my problem” I answered, how is pissible not to hurt even slughtly in observing the pain of another.

    • God loves everyone and everything equally. It – he / she doesnt play favorites until you get on its radar as a positive force in life. As you move yourself closer to the God, your life becomes less devoid and more full of love. It is simple really. Get you devoid filled by moving closer in any way you can. Start small at first with meditation and perhaps some exercise … Yoga may be one stop shopping for this for you brother.

      • Yoga has been an important path for me. It has brought about a deep peace and a feeling of connection to the spirit.
        Suffering is a tool of last resort to get our attention in order to bring about needed change. Spirit/God/ Creative forces will not intervene without our permission or cooperation. Suffering is a natural consequence of being out of attunement, not something put on us by a higher being.

  5. This is really amazing. Last almost entire night I spent crying, finding answers to my questions. I had also thought to myself, if only I could communicate with Ram Dass ji and get some counseling done. And this article so beautifully answers all my questions. I would like to know if there is a way to video chat(skype) with Ram Dass ji and get his blessings, and taste the nectar of his devotion and love for Maharajji.

  6. I so appreciate the notion that we have to see the suffering in ourselves to understand the suffering of others we are in relationship with. But what if we are in a relationship with someone who won’t ‘sacrifice suffering’ or burn through it? What if they cling to their suffering and we are more interested in the process of burning through ours?

  7. I am always taken deeper instantly receiving the blessings of your insights. It’s been that way these 40+ years of appreciating you. I am currently learning to lean more quickly into the suffering when it hits, and ride it like a wave until it passes. Though the pain that comes may be just as intense each time, the less I resist, the more I lean into it, feel it fully and then release it, the shorter the duration and the longer the time until the next wave. In dealing with grieving the loss of my spouse of 30 years after a slow decade of decline from MS, I measure progress in that way, i.e., when the pain comes, as intense as it may be, it doesn’t last as long and there is more time until the next time.

    • I don’t mean too take you off the subject but if You will put a bar of ivory soap, ( most any will work, I use Irish Spring, especially when pregnant & off meds), in yours sheet on your bed you won’t have leg cramps.’.’It works. My 87 year old Mom told me about this. Google it if you don’t believe me. No one knows why a bar of soap cures cramps & helps with rls but it does. Suffering makes You more compassionate if You are a loving soul. It makes you more fearful and hateful if you aren’t. Gold is purified by fire….so too is the Soul of Man. Namaste….

  8. Another timely message, and yes is that not so true. People want the happy face and the light heart, yet I prefer to also go deep into the pain to find the connection which binds yet repels. How to find the balance between my self and my I my story. Still hard to let go of all that has transpired this year, yet finding space for others now. And am able to dive deep or play a little Jai Ram

  9. I’m 65 now and this past summer my 95-year-old mother died. She showed me a couple of months before it happened that despite talking almost every day on the phone in the past ten years and always touching base with her all my life that we were not really close. I had a child’s dependence on my mother’s love all this time and had not really gotten past it. When I realized she didn’t like me much i was crushed – suffered so much grief. When she was sick I came to her and tried to be there but she didn’t want me. As hard as this was it opened my eyes to my own fear and dependence and my own refusal to rock the boat enough to know the truth a long time ago. I had never really shared my heart and in fact this is the first time I have done so in years.

    After some time had passed i realized that i still love her and will remember her as my beloved mom. I also know that she is more than my mother and has her own life to live and that i will never understand it all and don’t need to. I just let it go.

    In one of Ram Das’s book I read about the love of the Mother and finally took refuge where there will be no sorrow and pain and no blame. I know my Mom is also safe in those loving arms and that I have never truly been neglected or abandoned or forgotten. It made me realize that i am blessed to be here and that all will be well. There is comfort and joy despite suffering. Thank you thank you thank you. Now I really want to get on with it.

    • What you said makes sense, especially to me. I’m learning that in general: parents aren’t 100% of what we want them to be, which is probably how they feel about each of us as their children!

  10. I grew up in a family that connected with each other by “good-natured” teasing. Dad would laugh and poke at a point of my character, or looks, or behavior, laughing all the time so it seemed “we” must be having a good time. Only I would writhe under the laughter, off balance from the humiliation masked as humor, confused. “Why am I not having a good time with this?” Years later, I came to realize he was a bully, and we all became bullies. To this day I associate showing my suffering with the idea that someone will poke right at that tender spot and cause me to collapse.

    It takes so much consciousness of what I’m feeling, why I want to share it, who I’m sharing it with, what could possibly happen anyway, what have I got to lose.

    Jai Jai Babaji. Your love, Maharajji’s love removes my vulnerabilities.

  11. For me the question now, after many years of suffering the solitude of feeling especially “cursed” with suffering and having come through it through the minds of great people and spiritual teachers dead and alive, like Ram Dass (and meditation and plain hard work, !!) is how to be there for others who see no sense whatsoever in their own suffering and constantly dwell on the past and all that has gone wrong in their lives. ..Namaste. I see the strength in you to transform the pain … but do YOU see it???.

    • By seeing others as you would have them see you one is ‘there for others’.
      Each person is at their own level of awakening, growing at their own pace – no one better, no one lesser, like different grades in school.

  12. We suffer when we expected or thought they should be some thing in relationship to me and they turned out to be totaly opposite say did not fit the expectations and this could be our relationship with wife ,mother, parents, friends, relatives, teachers and world at large or GOD..

    I am keeping out. Health, physical or economic suffereing at present though it is equally or sometimes more and real.

    I was born very sensitive, even if some one mis-understand me I cried, but was very stubbern and can stand any hardship finacially,physically, socially but if some one feel sorry for me or sympathise It bring tears.

    So suffering can can different for different persons, I am bitter about it?

    No, but world is not perfect and more sensitive you are you can feel the your own or other around you very accutley.

    Sensitivity is the quality very close to universal heart.

    • I knew a wealthy, wise old woman who said to me “Some people like to think they are sensitive. They aren’t…they are just touchy.”

      • Mahendra – Not wise. This is not a very sensitive remark. Perhaps you are trying to wake someone up? Instead, you are denying someone’s experience. And where did you learn this sort of reaction, this sort of unkind cleverness? Even a 2 year old child knows to just put a hand on someone who is suffering. Ignorance isn’t bliss, it just creates more suffering. May your own suffering meet with loving presence.

  13. Can we just keep posting this over and over? How many out there are looking for a way to release suffering? This post is beautifully explained; the more suffering I have or discover in others; the more opportunities I have to transform it. In addition to to bringing one closer to God, my personal wish, may it bring me closer to others.

    • Suffering is not always a requirement, depending on your karma.
      At some point suffering may appear, and one can make one’s choice of how to deal with it.

      One can see in it how others feel, and how so many others have suffering much greater than our own at that point in time.
      Or one can resist it and become hardened, close off the heart and stop growing.

      But eventually the soft call of the Beloved may become irresistible, and we begin again.
      “There are as many paths to God as there are souls of beings. But there is only one God.”

    • Loving Presence, not suffering, is the EXPERIENCE that (seems to) grow a limited and vulnerable, ever vulnerable human being towards Union with WHAT IS – & is bigger than ego, fear, suffering and beyond words.
      I would say that the experience of suffering & compassion is sometimes what ‘wakes us human beings up’ — to the power/experience of – being with what is, the nature of consciousness, the EXPERIENCE of the heart, and the loving presence that is beyond words, beyond good and evil and life and death, maybe — and what some call God. This ‘literal God’ which become concretized and used as an excuse for all many of soulless, destructive nonsense and much harm. Most frequently, it is attached to loving presence sometimes, and the nonsense-destructiveness and ignorance at other times.


  14. I am new to all this so if anyone can help me understand , I would greatly appreciate it. I just found out that after helping my son though extensive financial problems, which entailed me taking a second job, that in his heart he felt no love for me . I feel angry , betrayed, and used.

    • You picked up your son’s load and carried it for him. It’s better to teach him how to carry it himself.

      You are angry from expecting something from him that turned out not to be there.
      You are angry with yourself for not seeing it.

      If you give with an open heart, with no expectations you will not feel angry at seeing you allowed yourself to be used.

      On some level you knew that is what was happening. Your choice was to do that for him, maybe expecting his love in return.

      Now you see it more clearly, now you can move on, working on your awakening, allowing your son to live his choices and carry his own karma.

      You will still love him and have empathy for him as he grows through his life, but you won’t be deterred from your path by his decisions and their consequences.

      • You son loves you. That love may be walled off or buried too deeply within him for him to be conscious of right now. He has most likely shut down his heart and this might ironically be the result of some intolerable vulnerability from early deep wounding or old resentments from childhood. Many of our life decisions are made at times by petulant children masking as adults. In any case, try not to take it on and make it mean anything about you, or allow it to cost you your grace and your love. If you are able, try not to take it personally. He’s switched off, for whatever reason, and not his true self. Man your boundaries, love him anyway, and hold a neutral space in your heart for the possibility that he may one day mature into taking responsibility for himself. It’s his choice and his karma to do that or not. It’s up to you to do what is best and feels right, but I’ll bet that clamping your heart shut isn’t what feels best.. that is a reflexive pain contraction and not a healthy state of being.

    • The better you treat people, the worse they will treat you back because
      they are juvenile and see it as a measure of weakness on your part and
      entitlement on theirs….unless they have understanding above a certain level.

      You enabled your immature son to stay immature. He is not the same person you thought he was. He is not as considerate as you, not even enough to understand your level of it, let alone experience it. You will never regret doing the best you could the first time. Just don’t be a fool and do it again, knowing the same thing will happen. Time for him to grow up. You should probably love yourself more, to show everyone else the example of how to treat you.

  15. suffering in a way are blessing to the aware mind or pointing- to aware mind ….and they take us to a newer insight!
    while dealing with them we have to see with intense awareness if we want to extract the most of it or else the blank cheque of god will go in vain………

  16. Suffering is a more consistent reliable aspect of experience, deeming its counterpoint, joy, bliss, relief from suffering, impermeable and fleeting. Who can permit joy when wreckage lies in wait?

  17. Suffering is what connects us to each other and allows us to share the human experience. Joy cannot be experienced without the acknowledgment of pain.Those devoid of this ability hold the seed that gives birth to the most grave of human atrocities; through either the persecution of “others”, or, the indifference to its occurrence.


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